‘You Can’t Afford To Make Mistakes’: Will Pence Emerge From Coronavirus A Hero Or A Scapegoat?
No one is denying the pressure that Vice President Mike Pence faces after President Donald Trump put him in charge of the country's coronavirus response. So far, Pence has borrowed a page from his gubernatorial playbook by attempting to control government messaging as it relates to coronavirus, and that lack of transparency is drawing criticism. But the vice president is expected to ramp up communications staffing in the coming days. Meanwhile, top health officials in the Trump administration are all adjusting to living under the microscope.
‘This Is The Equivalent Of War’: Pence Faces The Toughest Test Of The Trump Era
Behind Vice President Mike Pence’s steady demeanor and steely look since taking charge of the U.S. government response to coronavirus is a cruel truth: He will emerge either as the architect of a successful containment strategy — boosting his own resumé and President Donald Trump’s reelection odds — or deal a potentially fatal blow to his political aspirations. In the days since Trump tapped his right-hand man to lead the administration’s coronavirus task force, people in Pence’s orbit have been warning him of the gravity of this moment. Some have offered encouragement and advice from afar. Others have used Twitter and TV appearances to tamp down concerns about public health risks and economic disruptions. (Orr, 3/2)
The New York Times:
Pence Says Risk To Americans From Coronavirus Remains Low
Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday the risk to Americans from coronavirus remains low, after authorities in Washington state announced the deaths of four more people, raising the U.S. death toll to six. (3/2)
'You Don't Want To Go To War With A President'
Anthony Fauci might be the one person everyone in Washington trusts right now. But at 79, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is in the thick of one of the biggest battles of 35 years in the role: The race to contain coronavirus when the nation is deeply polarized and misinformation can spread with one tweet — sometimes, from the president himself. (Owermohle, 3/3)
Trump's Team Shifts Tone From Preventing Coronavirus To Containing It
Top Trump administration officials are shifting their message on the coronavirus outbreak, emphasizing efforts to contain, rather than prevent, the disease. The tone at a Monday afternoon White House briefing with Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump's coronavirus task force marked a notable change from earlier efforts to tamp down fear of community spread of the disease — a tacit acknowledgment of a surge in new cases over the past two days and six reported deaths. There are currently 43 confirmed cases in the U.S., including 26 involving people who had no known exposure to the virus. (Ehley, 3/2)
HHS Taps Kadlec To Run Department’s Coronavirus Response
HHS is putting its top emergency preparedness official in charge of coordinating the department’s coronavirus response — a sign of renewed urgency toward combating the worsening outbreak, according to an internal announcement obtained by POLITICO. The directive circulated this afternoon designated Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec with managing the response across the government’s health agencies. (Cancryn, 3/2)
Spread Of Coronavirus Gives White House A Grave Stress Test
The White House's capacity to control the coronavirus crisis, the credibility of its upbeat messaging and its efforts to build public trust are about to face a grave test as health officials report a spike in confirmed cases and new deaths on US soil. Reassurances by President Donald Trump and his top aides that Americans should remain calm went only so far on a day when the number of American fatalities jumped to six, the total of cases topped 100 and experts warned that the true scale of infections was likely far higher than the spotty medical testing carried out so far shows. (Collinson, 3/3)
And in other news —
The New York Times:
Defense Secretary Warns Commanders Not To Surprise Trump On Coronavirus
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge, American officials said. Mr. Esper’s directive, delivered last week during a video teleconference call with combatant commanders around the world, is the latest iteration of Mr. Trump’s efforts to manage public fears over the disease, even as it continues to spread around the world. (Schmitt and Cooper, 3/2)
Los Angeles Times:
What Can The Government Force People To Do To Fight Coronavirus?
What policy measures are available to stop the spread of disease in the United States? From the nation’s borders to the thresholds of our homes, public health officials have a range of options for slowing or stopping the spread of an infectious disease. Think of it as a layered defense. Generally speaking, as those measures get closer to home, they sweep in more people and become more controversial. (Healy, 3/2)
The Washington Post:
Major Airlines, U.S. Officials Clash Over Passenger Tracking Related To Coronavirus Cases
U.S. officials are pressuring airline executives to turn over the email addresses and phone numbers of international passengers as the Trump administration tries to track who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, according to five people briefed on the situation. Government officials have said they need the data so they can warn local authorities about who might have been exposed to the virus. But the airline industry has balked, saying the federal government should instead share information it already collects among different agencies and come up with a system for obtaining the rest. (Stein, Sun and Aratani, 3/2)